Originally published 07/31/2013
Matthew Kirschenbaum is associate professor of English at the University of Maryland. He is currently completing a book titled Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing for Harvard University Press....[What is] software? Is it just the code, or is it also the shrink-wrapped artifact, complete with artwork, documentation, and “feelies,” extras like faux maps or letters that would become part of the play of a game? Is it the program or the operating system? What about the hardware? The firmware? What about controllers and other peripherals integral to the experience of a given piece of software? How to handle all the different versions and iterations of software? What about fan-generated add-ons like mods and macros? What about discussion boards and strategy guides and blogs and cheat sheets, all of which capture the lively communities around software?More simply: What do we save, and how do we save it?...
Originally published 07/22/2013
Amy Kaslow is a longtime journalist covering international economics and postwar reconstruction....Despite years of prodding from Cambodian survivors and international pressure, the tribunal only began hearing testimony in 2007. By that time, Pol Pot—Khmer Rouge architect and lead executioner—had been dead for nearly a decade. A royal pardon allowed his brother-in-law, Ieng Sary—co-founder of the Khmer Rouge and mastermind of torture and mass murder—to travel on a diplomatic passport and enjoy both a homestead in Pailin, the former bastion of Khmer Rouge leaders, and his lavish villa in Phnom Penh. Sary, the man Pol Pot called Brother No. 3, was apprehended in 2007 and died this past March while standing trial in Case 002 for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.
Originally published 06/09/2013
Beverly Gage, a Yale history professor, is the author of The Day Wall Street Exploded....There can be no question that COINTELPRO was more intrusive—if also more targeted—than today’s apparent efforts at mass technological surveillance by the National Security Agency. But there is at least one important distinction that makes today’s scandal far more disturbing. When the FBI launched COINTELPRO, it was acting alone, outside of the boundaries of established law. Today, what the NSA is doing appears to be legal—and nearly every branch of the government is complicit. Unlike Hoover’s activities, the NSA’s programs come to us with the seal of congressional and judicial approval. It didn’t take J. Edgar Hoover to engineer this scandal. We did it to ourselves....
Originally published 03/21/2013
Ben Yagoda is author of About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made and the just-published How to Not Write Bad: The Most Common Writing Problems and the Best Ways to Avid Them. He is a professor of English and journalism at the University of Delaware.
Originally published 01/28/2013
Mark Joseph Stern is a Slate intern.At 1:23 a.m. on April 26, 1986, Reactor 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, following a disastrously ill-judged systems test by undertrained technicians. As surplus energy surged through the reactor, its core combusted, immediately killing nearby workers and exposing others to deadly levels of radiation. In the nearby town of Prypiat, Ukraine, people woke up to respiratory distress and nausea. Emergency response workers encased the reactor in a concrete sarcophagus and, unprepared for exposure to radioactivity, became stricken with severe symptoms of radiation poisoning. Tens of thousands of Soviet citizens filed into Chernobyl to help, considering it their patriotic duty; all were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation with no warning from the government. It took two days for the explosion to be announced, in vague terms, on the national news; not until Sweden discovered a radiation cloud that had drifted across Europe was the true extent of the Chernobyl explosion revealed.
Originally published 01/17/2013
Jeffrey Wasserstrom is Chancellor’s Professor of History at UC Irvine, the author of China in the 21stCentury: What Everyone Needs to Know and co-editor of Chinese Characters: Profiles of Fast-Changing Lives in a Fast-Changing Land.
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